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The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

Art Burke Letter 8 June 1942
Then-Ensign Art Burke's letter to his family, dated 8 June 1942, two days after the Battle of Midway.

CDR Art Burke (U.S.N. Ret.), served in Enterprise from February 1942 to November 1943. At the time of the Battle of Midway (June 4-6, 1942), then-Ensign Burke's General Quarters station was Officer in Charge (OIC) of a battery of 20mm anti-aircraft guns at flight deck level, on the starboard side of the ship's island. Two days after the battle he composed the following letter, "to reassure my family that contrary to Jap reports the Enterprise was not sunk!"

Navy censors clipped out several sensitive phrases of Burke's original letter. Some sixty years later, he's recalled what the censored phrases most likely were. In the transcription below, these phrases appear in brackets ( [ ] ).

June 8 1942
Dearest Mom & Dan, How's everything by you all? I am still allright. (Just to let you know.)
Well, the Navy gave the Japs quite a licking, eh? It sure sounds like propaganda and exaggeration for the [Navy Department] to say that all those Jap carriers, battleships, cruisers, and transports were sunk and damaged with U.S. losses only a damaged [carrier], doesn't it? But it is a very conservative communique. The Navy is making no false or colored statements and is being very careful not to have to take any statements back, so, incredible as it may seem, it's all true, and as he says himself all the returns aren't in yet. But I still [hate] to think what might very well have been had [our planes been a few] minutes later in their [attack, my ship] would have been [sunk]. Oh well!
Say hi to everyone for me, please.
How are you making out, Dan? In the army yet? Honest folks, I am tired so I'll end this letter right here and write more when there is a chance of getting it off again.

Letter reprinted with kind permission of CDR Art Burke (U.S.N. Ret.).

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